Andrew Grice: It's no LOL matter for George Osborne as he's drawn into BSkyB affair


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The Independent Online

Jeremy Hunt survived his day in court, but the net cast by the Leveson Inquiry is widening. George Osborne, the Chancellor, is the latest senior politician to become enmeshed.

Last month, Treasury sources told The Independent that Mr Osborne was "not involved" in the decision to hand Jeremy Hunt responsibility for News Corp's bid for BSkyB after Vince Cable admitted he had "declared war" on Rupert Murdoch.

Yesterday, the Leveson Inquiry was told that Mr Osborne sent a text to Mr Hunt after he was given the role saying: "I hope you like the solution." It suggests that the Chancellor and David Cameron were all in it together, despite the Treasury denials. Previously, James Murdoch complained to Mr Osborne about the "slow progress" in deciding on the bid.

Mr Hunt's appointment was remarkable given that Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne must have known he was a cheerleader for the deal. In trying to eliminate bias by removing Mr Cable, they handed it to someone liable to be just as biased in the opposite direction.

Mr Cameron is still refusing an inquiry into whether Mr Hunt breached the Ministerial Code – a possible fall-back plan after yesterday's hearing. If it had gone disastrously, he might have sacked his Culture Secretary. Mr Hunt remains a shield for Mr Cameron but the Prime Minister and his Chancellor have an increasingly long list of questions to answer when they appear before Lord Justice Leveson.